Drink in the summer sun

She feels really free right now

Lo, the warm weather is here. The last spring freeze has hopefully passed us by, and thus begins patio-drinking season. To celebrate, we’ve got just a sample of the awesome booze-related festivals coming up this summer, along with a couple tasty cocktail recipes from our Boulder Weekly Drink columnist.

In this theoretically post-pandemic world, outdoor events are coming back in force. Find something to do on any given weekend until the summer ends—here’s a few worth checking out:

After a pandemic-related hiatus, Boulder Creek Festival returns with the Creekside Beer Festival, May 28 and 29. Hang out by Boulder Creek and pick up tickets for one of four tasting sessions on Saturday and Sunday. With at least 20 local breweries, there will be plenty from which to sample.

Up for something wild? Summit Tacos in Longmont hosts the Sixth Annual Randy Savage Memorial Bar Crawl on May 29. Starting at 11 a.m. at Summit Tacos with a kick-off brunch, Wrestlemania will crawl through Longmont to drink beer and snap men’s leotards. The event returns to Summit Tacos in the evening for a live wrestling event. Oh yeah.

Visit the distant land of Arvada on June 18 for Arvada on Tap, a craft beer and BBQ festival. Boasting dozens of vendors, live music and an amateur barbecue competition, the one-day festival is a great pre-Father’s Day option to make sure the dad in your life can nap soundly the following Sunday.

Way out yonder in Vail, the highest-altitude beer festival returns for a sixth year. The Vail Craft Beer Classic runs June 17-18, with specialty beers, limited releases and delicious libations from brewers and cider makers in the state. At 8,150 feet of altitude, please don’t try sledding down the grassy ski slopes while chugging your beer.

That same weekend, June 24-26, is Keystone’s Bacon & Bourbon Festival. Bacon and whiskey are one of the most pure combinations in the world, unless you’re a vegetarian who doesn’t drink whiskey. Take the trip to enjoy live music, samplings and a tour of TINCUP.

Headed toward Winter Park that weekend? TheBigWonderful is hosting Summer Beer Fest on June 25. More than 30 booze slingers from across the state, along with a craft bazaar and live music. Colorado does love drinking beer and listening to bluegrass at higher elevations. 

Starting June 18 and running through Aug. 7, the Colorado Renaissance Festival celebrates its 45th season with eight weeks of pseudo-historical fantasy fun. OK, maybe this one isn’t specifically a beer or whiskey related festival, but some alcohol definitely makes all the delightful weirdness that much more enjoyable. 

Are there more events you could check out? Absolutely. Check out Boulder Weekly’s regular events calendar (boulderweekly.com/events) for more awesome things to do in our fair state this summer. 

Maybe wandering around noisy, crowded festivals sampling beer isn’t your jam. That’s OK, really. I promise. Maybe you’d rather hang out in your backyard with some friends over a few cocktails. I’m with you. 

Here are a couple easy, refreshing cocktails to cool you off in the summer sun. They’ve got a little sweetness and enough of a kick to make the party that much more lively. Plus, you can smash a lot of fruit. Breweries are all about smashing fruits into seasonal beers these days, but bartenders did it with cocktails first.

MAENPAA Blackberry Bramble

Blackberry Bramble

2 ounces of your favorite gin

4 or 5 large, fresh blackberries

3 large basil leaves

In your mixing tin/pitcher/flower vase, add the gin, four blackberries and two basil leaves. Now mash them together until the blackberries are fully pulped and the basil shredded. Add in your lemon juice and simple syrup, a scoop of ice and shake the hell out of it, then strain it into a clean glass. Add some ice, top off with the soda water and tell your friends to dump their White Claw down the sink. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with lemon peel, basil and a blackberry.

Strawberry Bourbon Smash

MATT MAENPAA Strawberry Bourbon Smash

2 ounces of your favorite bourbon

2 large strawberries (or 3 small ones), sliced

3 or 4 mint leaves

It’s not a mojito, it’s not an Old Fashioned, but make this for your friends and it’ll definitely be a smash. Following the same basic instructions of the Bramble, muddle the bourbon, strawberries and mint with the simple syrup. Don’t be afraid to add an extra splash of bourbon. Strain over a big ice cube in a clean glass, top off with soda water and garnish with sliced strawberries.

Both of these cocktails are light and refreshing while still on the boozy side. The best part is they can be mixed ahead of time in batches to make serving easy, just save the soda water until you’re ready to drink. Both can also be served in punch bowls, if that’s your sort of thing. To make a bigger batch, just multiply the ingredients by the number of guests. Keeping the cocktails chilled will be easy without any hard seltzers taking up space in your fridge.